This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Natasha Morgan and Family

Homes

Transforming a dream into reality, landscape architect and urban designer Natasha Morgan left behind her career and life in Melbourne to create Oak & Monkey Puzzle, a design, event and horticultural-focussed property just outside of Daylesford in Victoria, where she now lives with her two children.

Beneath 160-year-old oak trees, Natasha Morgan spoke with Fiona Killackey about home renovations, fulfilling dreams, the magnificence of nature and the delight that comes with living off the land.

TDF’s gardens columnist, Georgina Reid of The Plant Hunter, also took a tour of Natasha’s property earlier in the week. You can read her story on the beautiful grounds here.

18th January, 2017

The house sits in a quiet locale, back from the road. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The moody central dining room features the original Post Office earth wall. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Natasha selected Dulux Vivid White for internal walls. Aboriginal painting is Women Body Paint by Audrey Brumby, alongside 1800s French ladder-back rush chair, timber benches from Leonard Joel, assorted wooden chopping blocks from Fryerstown Antique Fair, and vintage chest with assorted vintage stoneware. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Loungeroom dresser detail, with assorted vintage stoneware bought at markets, Vintage French stamp set from a French flea market, vintage stoneware mould from Mill Markets Daylesford, and pewter pieces from Manteau Noir, Daylesford. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Natasha’s lounge room showcases an antique French provincial dresser from  L J Tuddin Antiques, Inverloch. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Assorted vintage copper pots, Sophie Moran teapot from Bokeh, Daylesford, and kitchen cupboards from IKEA. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The mudroom houses Natasha’s preserves, including the popular Elderflower Cordial (see her site for stockist details). It also features a vintage dresser, vintage fruit baskets from Mill Market, Daylesford, Fowlers Vacola jars inherited from her grandmother, and Falcon Enamelware. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

‘One of the first parts we completed was this small alcove in the kitchen’ says Natasha of the area above the existing vintage woodstove, ‘I would stare at it and think, at least one part of this renovation is done!’ Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The bathroom offers one of the most spectacular views from the house onto the sprawling garden and workshop areas. It features a vintage mirror, assorted vintage stoneware, antique pewter candlestick holder from Tyabb Antique Market, Carrara marble bench sourced from stone yard in Brooklyn, and sink from Schots Emporium. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Creative corner in Natasha’s master bedroom. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Natasha used Dulux Vivid White in Low Sheen for her bedroom. The antique timber corbel is from Camberwell Market, with antique rush seated stool, Iosis velvet cushions, Bedouin Society linen, vintage rice canisters and Haby Bonomo Pour Genevieve Levy Edition pillow slips all from Manteau Noir, Daylesford. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

An ornamental bird cage sits atop a vintage chest in a bedroom. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Cute curios and handmade creations adorn walls. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Large windows provide vantages of the spectacular grounds. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Colourful paintings and drawings feature in the children’s room and playroom. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The bright and airy bathroom. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Landscape architect and urban designer, Natasha Morgan with her two children Saffron and Oliver.  Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The purpose built Oak & Monkey Puzzle workshop area, in the sun-drenched top corner of the garden. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Fiona Killackey
Wednesday 18th January 2017

Breathtaking. That’s the first word that comes to mind when you pull off the seemingly endless Ballan-Daylesford Road and into Oak & Monkey Puzzle, a property renovated by Natasha Morgan. Set back from the bitumen, the stark, white weatherboard home stands out against a backdrop of soaring gums and age-old oaks. Acting not only as a home for Natasha and her two small children, Oak & Monkey Puzzle is also a buzzing place of business. In collaboration with other local creatives, Natasha hosts events, workshops, shoots and even weddings on the property, as well as utilising the spectacular garden to grow flowers for a local florist collective, and a host of produce for her popular  preserves.

‘I had dreamt about owning a place in the country since my early days at Uni, and had been passively looking for about eight years,’ says Natasha. Initially searching for a weekender, Natasha changed her mind when she and her partner stumbled upon an almost derelict property, housing what was originally the Spargo Creek Post Office, built in the 1860s by Swiss-Italian builder, Mr Spargo. ‘I stood there under those towering trees, and felt the dream had to happen somehow’ she says.

Utilising her skills as a landscape architect and urban designer, Natasha created all the drawings for the new home, with work carried out by herself, her partner, and various tradespeople. ‘It was so rundown… we had gaps in the walls where bats would fly in’ Natasha recalls. One of the renovation highlights was discovering the original post office walls. ‘You can actually see the builder’s fingerprints in the earth… I love to put my own hands on this and imagine it back then.’

Merging the best of a Gold Rush-era structure with a crisp palette of white, black and charcoal, the home brings together an endearingly ad-hoc edit of vintage collectables and contemporary details. ‘I like to think of the home as an experience you inhabit, rather than a collection of things’ says Natasha. 

At one end of the home is a master bedroom with new parquet flooring and artwork from Josh Bowes, alongside an all-white bathroom with a spectacular view to the garden via an oversized window. At the centre of the home is a dramatic dark dining room, featuring that original exposed earth wall from the original post office. An all-white kitchen leads onto Natasha’s mudroom, where she stores her preserves. At the front of the house is the lounge room, featuring a wall of vintage and contemporary art, as well as Natasha’s collection of vintage pewter and stoneware. Her children’s room is a mixture of vintage and new, bursting with colourful paintings and wooden toys.

‘I love it here,’ says Natasha. ‘What started as a dream has turned into more than I could imagine!’

Natasha hosts workshops and events at Oak & Monkey Puzzle throughout the year, click here to see upcoming dates and details. This year the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s Regional Longest Lunch – Daylesford will be held on the property, with proceeds going to the Daylesford Primary Kitchen Garden Program.

This Week

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Seasonal Flavours : Citrus

One of our FAVE foodies, Julia Busuttil-Nishimura joins TDF this month as a columnist! First up, she shares a flavour-packed roasted caulifl...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura
  16 hours ago

Art

Balenciaga Comes To Bendigo!

Direct from the Victoria and Albert museum in London, the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion’ arrives at the Bendig...
Miriam McGarry
  23 hours ago

Bringing Light and Space Into A Fitzroy Terrace House

Taylor Knights Architecture and Interior Design transform this inner city terrace house with a sunken living room, shifting ceiling volumes
Miriam McGarry

Shopping

Bright New Ceramic Artists On Show At The Old Clare Hotel

An old bottle shop is home to some of Sydney’s best emerging design until this Sunday!
Maggie Scardifield

News

Australian Ceramics Open Studios Is On Again This Weekend!

Clay artists around Australia are opening their doors this weekend for Australian Ceramics Open Studios 2019.
Amelia Barnes

Gardens

A Plant Collector's Wild And Wonderful Paradise

Lyle Filippe shares his lifelong love of rare plants and quest to make 'something iconic' via his never-ending passion project, Roraima Nurs...
Georgina Reid

Modernist Australia

1970s Excellence On The Market In Eaglemont

Nestled within the Glenard Estate designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Griffin, this four-bedroom stunner brings the WOW-factor!
Patricia Callan

Architecture

The Apple Crate Shack On The Apple Isle!

A $60,000 budget goes a long way in this ambitious project in Flowerpot, Tasmania.
Miriam McGarry
  13 hours ago
48:47

Podcast

TDF Talks with Architect, IADV Co-founder, and Academic Jefa Greenaway

The trailblazing architect, advocate and academic reflects on his pivotal role as the first indigenous architect to be registered in Victori...

Shopping

Country Road Make Sustainability The Height Of Luxury

The new 5 Star Green Star Design Review rated Chadstone store is the pinnacle of eco-friendly design.

News

Tamara Dean, Bill Henson + Janet Laurence In Conversation With The Planthunter

Georgina Reid of The Planthunter sits down with artists Tamara Dean, Bill Henson + Janet Laurence in a new conversation series connecting ar...
Amelia Barnes
  13 hours ago

TDF Design Awards

Celebrating Australia's Best Stylists And Art Directors

Highlighting ten outstanding styling and art direction projects, shortlisted for the TDF Design Awards!

News

Buxton Contemporary Reflects On 100 Years Of Bauhaus Design

See archival footage and contemporary works inspired by the Bauhaus movement in this Melbourne exhibition.
Amelia Barnes
3:04

Shopping

Sheridan + Grandiflora, Australian Botanicals And Bedding!

Our latest video, celebrating a very special collaboration between Sheridan and Grandiflora.

News

All Are Welcome At North Melbourne School Of Displacement

Learn about and honour the First Nations in this accessible North Melbourne discussion series.
Amelia Barnes

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

Fine And Dandy In Dandenong!

PR Guru Jade Roberts shares her 1960s mid-century renovated family home.

Homes

New Custodians Transform This Captains Cottage In Hobart

A home built for a ship master in the 1800s get a new lease on life.

Homes

A Family Home That Channels Miami In Melbourne

Emma Abrahams and family share their bright and contemporary Studley Park home.

This Week

Shopping

Bright New Ceramic Artists On Show At The Old Clare Hotel

An old bottle shop is home to some of Sydney’s best emerging design until this Sunday!
Maggie Scardifield

News

All Are Welcome At North Melbourne School Of Displacement

Learn about and honour the First Nations in this accessible North Melbourne discussion series.
Amelia Barnes

News

Buxton Contemporary Reflects On 100 Years Of Bauhaus Design

See archival footage and contemporary works inspired by the Bauhaus movement in this Melbourne exhibition.
Amelia Barnes

Art

Balenciaga Comes To Bendigo!

Direct from the Victoria and Albert museum in London, the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion’ arrives at the Bendig...
Miriam McGarry
  23 hours ago

Architecture

The Apple Crate Shack On The Apple Isle!

A $60,000 budget goes a long way in this ambitious project in Flowerpot, Tasmania.
Miriam McGarry
  13 hours ago

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Seasonal Flavours : Citrus

One of our FAVE foodies, Julia Busuttil-Nishimura joins TDF this month as a columnist! First up, she shares a flavour-packed roasted caulifl...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura
  16 hours ago

Modernist Australia

1970s Excellence On The Market In Eaglemont

Nestled within the Glenard Estate designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Griffin, this four-bedroom stunner brings the WOW-factor!
Patricia Callan

News

Tamara Dean, Bill Henson + Janet Laurence In Conversation With The Planthunter

Georgina Reid of The Planthunter sits down with artists Tamara Dean, Bill Henson + Janet Laurence in a new conversation series connecting ar...
Amelia Barnes
  13 hours ago
48:47

Podcast

TDF Talks with Architect, IADV Co-founder, and Academic Jefa Greenaway

The trailblazing architect, advocate and academic reflects on his pivotal role as the first indigenous architect to be registered in Victori...

TDF Design Awards

Celebrating Australia's Best Stylists And Art Directors

Highlighting ten outstanding styling and art direction projects, shortlisted for the TDF Design Awards!

News

Australian Ceramics Open Studios Is On Again This Weekend!

Clay artists around Australia are opening their doors this weekend for Australian Ceramics Open Studios 2019.
Amelia Barnes
3:04

Shopping

Sheridan + Grandiflora, Australian Botanicals And Bedding!

Our latest video, celebrating a very special collaboration between Sheridan and Grandiflora.

Bringing Light and Space Into A Fitzroy Terrace House

Taylor Knights Architecture and Interior Design transform this inner city terrace house with a sunken living room, shifting ceiling volumes
Miriam McGarry

Shopping

Country Road Make Sustainability The Height Of Luxury

The new 5 Star Green Star Design Review rated Chadstone store is the pinnacle of eco-friendly design.

Gardens

A Plant Collector's Wild And Wonderful Paradise

Lyle Filippe shares his lifelong love of rare plants and quest to make 'something iconic' via his never-ending passion project, Roraima Nurs...
Georgina Reid

Similar Stories

Homes

Fine And Dandy In Dandenong!

PR Guru Jade Roberts shares her 1960s mid-century renovated family home.

Homes

New Custodians Transform This Captains Cottage In Hobart

A home built for a ship master in the 1800s get a new lease on life.

Homes

A Family Home That Channels Miami In Melbourne

Emma Abrahams and family share their bright and contemporary Studley Park home.